Volunteering is an ideal instrument to bring abandoned heritage sites back to the awareness of the public. This may happen for different reasons: because a heritage site is in danger to fall in decay, because a heritage site which had been so far accessible for the public is endangered by privatisation, because important elements of a bigger heritage ensemble are in danger to become forgotten, or others.
In most of the cases the voluntarily engagement can be only the first step to draw the publics’ attention on the particular heritage site or on its state of conservation, and in a second step more substantial measures must follow. But sometimes interventions on a voluntary base which originally had been planned only as a singular or temporary action become the starting point of a long and sustainable process, of substantial and responsible activities for endangered heritages.
Also European Heritage Volunteers’ own history had started in that way – with small, temporary and very specific measures in order to protect endangered heritage sites from decay – as repairing roofs, undertaking water management measures, creating supporting constructions for the static stabilisation of heritage sites and similar activities. Having these own experiences in mind European Heritage Volunteers supports initiatives which are willing to overtake the – temporary or permanent – responsibility for endangered heritage sites by organising volunteering projects at these sites.
In 2017, European Heritage Volunteers organises one project at an endangered heritage site – at the park of the former “Waldlust” Grand Hotel in Freudenstadt, Baden-Wuerttemberg.
The “Waldlust” Hotel in Freudenstadt, founded in 1899, was a first choice resort of a noble society of spa guests. It stands as a historic architecture building, as a cultural heritage treasury, as a long time social meeting place in a high rank – a unique symbol of a former golden period of town development. During the 1st third of the 20th century the hotel took a breathtaking career, carried by the arrival of many world famous guests – kings, queens, princes, poets, artists and also the international jet set. Also during its second blooming period after World War II the “Waldlust” had been a catwalk for the high society. “Waldlust”, the leading hotel of Freudenstadt, came to success by the entrepreneurial genius of a widespread hotel dynasty, the Luz family, who owned and managed several well known houses in Freudenstadt, Baden-Baden and Austria.
Today the old palace with its impressive size and scenery and its glorious “personal” history offers us a review back to a golden era, almost unimaginable for such a small town deeply embedded in the Black Forest woods. The “Denkmalverein Freudenstadt” (Freudenstadt Association for Heritage) is highly ambitious to preserve the splendid architecture as cultural heritage site of a great age. Therefore it undertakes rooftop repairing, water containment and other constructive measures, carries out conservation works as well as preventive measures against the loss of art and assures the houses' safety by constant controls. The association also informs about the great history of the heritage site by guided tours and by public relation efforts of all kinds.
The “Waldlust” Hotel is surrounded by a wide park area, which formerly served as an old style wellness and leisure time retreat for the noble high society clientele: with broad promenades, nicely built in the steep hillside, with stone walls and stair cases as well as intimate sitting opportunities, which offers marvellous outlooks far to the East up to the “blue ribbon” of the Swabian Alb. This once very characteristic grand hotel leisure ground had been fallen to oblivion in many years. Due to the absence of any gardening and cultivation forms and structures had gone lost – until the “Denkmalverein Freudenstadt” started to restore paths and interesting places of this traditional ground.
The European Heritage Volunteers Project aims at restoring and cultivating further parts of the historic hotel park. Thereby the old concept of “Parkwald” (“park forest”) should be regained und brought into presence. This concept, being founded during the 1st decade of 20th century solely in Freudenstadt, means a specific and delicate kind of cure and wellness infrastructure. The “park forest” idea had come out as a unique pioneer act made by the Freudenstadt town builders of those years. In 2025, when Freudenstadt will host a half year “green exhibition” for the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, the hotel park should contribute a singular and outstanding historic scenery.
The works, which will be carried out during the project, include a conceptual und intelligent sweep of the green wilderness, which has captured the originally garden site. This means the clearing of small or middle aged trees and plants that are not typically for the park as well as the excavation of garden structures with century old origin currently covered by leaves. Finally, a handcrafted historic water suspension system in the hill slope, dating back to 1892, which combines as well technical as artistic construction value, will be restored.
Those works and measures shall help the city of Freudenstadt, its citizens and guests, to realise the enormous treasure of air-bath heritage and livelihood during the golden age, when this formerly rural town deep down in the woods became a world famous spa resort.
The project will take place from July, 22nd, to August, 5th, 2017.
The project is organised by European Heritage Volunteers, in cooperation with Denkmalverein Freudenstadt (Freudenstadt Association for Heritage).